Wednesday, 29 April 2009

There is blossom on my Isaac Newton tree

One of the apple trees in my garden is a clone of the famous tree underneath which Newton is supposed to have received enlightenment.

The original tree survived into the nineteenth century, by which time various institutions had grafts. There are clones in the National Apple Collection at Brogdale, which supplies grafts of anything in its collection for only a relatively small charge, so I had a tree grafted.

It was supposed to be on a semi-dwarfing rootstock, M26, but defied my attempts to prune it to a modest height by growing prodigiously and not flowering, so I eventually allowed one branch to grow unchecked.

Last year it flowered for the first time, but produced only two clusters of flowers and no fruit. This year, in about its fourteenth year, it has at last produced a modest quantity of blossom, so I hope for an Isaac Newton Apple this Summer.

Incidentally, the variety is Flower of Kent.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

An Anniversary

Yesterday was the first anniversary of my beginning this blog.

I'm quite glad that I didn't post then, because I prefer not to take anniversaries seriously.

I have made more than a hundred comments here in a year and a day - far more than I expected to make  when I started. I fear blogging has distracted me from other things. I must spend more time in the garden and more time on those unending Philosophy notes. Recent reading has stimulated more thoughts about Scientific explanation, so Chapter 6 is due for revision.

Monday, 13 April 2009

The Megalomania of Software Developers

I recently bought a new laptop. It runs Windows Vista.

Each version of Windows I've used is bossier than the one before. The programmers seem to think the computer belongs to them, so they can decide what I may put on it, and where each item shall be stored. I've therefore been struggling to establish control.

The problem is made worse by the virus checker. I had previously relied on freeware virus checkers, which are usually relatively unobtrusive, but this time I let the shop persuade me to buy the Kaspersky product. It whinges whenever  install software, and even protested the first time the browser tried to access the Internet.

The worst time was on Easter Sunday when I installed the software for my Epson SX200 printer, scanner, photocopier.

First I couldn't find the disk. When I looked for a driver on the Epson site, I could find no mention of the printer in question, though I did eventually find elsewhere copies of the instruction booklets and of a driver for the printer only.

I decided the disk must be buried in the piles of unfiled papers in my study, so I spent most of Easter Sunday sorting out papers, and eventually found the disk, and installed from that.

I noticed that one of the utilities on the disc offered optical character recognition, but, after installation, I couldn't find any Epson utility that did that, nor any indication how to do it in the Epson documentation.

Eventually I found that the program in question is called ABBYY FineReader, and is not included in the Epson group of programs. It seems to work reasonably, but before finding it I had spent a lot of time searching the web for freeware OCR programs. (TopOCR works quite well at turning a picture of text into a text file).

What a fuss !!!

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

I've moved my web site

The new url is

so I'm using the CIX web space again.

The old material remains on the Virgin servers, but I still can't obtain access to modify it.

On the other hand the affairs of CIX have taken a turn for the better. it has now regained its independence, and the part that administers web space has been reunited with conferencing.

Inspired by the peerless Gerard I was able to copy material from my computer to the CIX site using Windows Explorer, instead of by command line in an MSDOS box as I have done in the past. 

Sunday, 5 April 2009

More trouble with Virgin

I've found I can no longer modify the contents of my website. Attempts either to upload files, or to delete what is already there, are rejected on the ground that I don't have the necessary permission, though I can see everything on the site.

Peter of the Virgin help team couldn't put it right, even after having two consultations with his coleagues. He thinks it may be a server fault, so perhaps all will be well soon if they manage to put it right.

I did glean one piece of useful information - where to go to alter user settings. I'd several times searched the Virgin site in vain for that, but now I know where it is.

Readers who'd like to know should look at: 

you can't do much there apart from change passwords and defined extra email addresses, but that little is better than nothing.

I've also discovered that I have 200 MB of web space.

If all who have Virgin broadband used all their web space, many new servers would be needed.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

I agree with Hazel Blears

I've rewritten this blog to avoid a misunderstanding.

What I originally wrote suggested to at least one reader that my object was to praise Hazel Blears. I was actually expressing amazement that someone I consider to be the platitude made flesh should have said something that I agreed with.

One of the bees that have long buzzed in my bonnet concerns the way fines levied on public bodies for failing adequately to serve the public, are eventually paid by the ill served members of the public.  It should be possible to meet such fines by deductions from the wages of those who run the failing institutions.

When I heard a report that the BBC had been fined 150 000 pounds because two comedians made offensive, indeed slanderous, phone calls during a programme, I decided to blog about it.

As I lay in my bath thinking of what to say, I heard an interview with Hazel Blears in which she observed that the fine should not come out of license fee payments made by the very same viewers who were annoyed by the broadcast, but should be paid by the offending comedians.  In my astonishment at that agreement I made that, rather than the main issue, the focus of my blog.

As my friend John pointed out, Blears herself deserves little personal credit because she is one of the politicians who have collaborated to create the system I deplore. Also her ire my have been to some extent misdirected. She seemed to regard the offending comedians as the main culprits, and did not suggest that  BBC executives should shoulder part of the cost.

Still, I do find it encouraging that she should have realised that all is not well.